Barcelona v Inter Milan preview

Real Madrid in 2007.
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In what looks like a classic game Barcelona are trying to overcome a 3-1 deficit from the 1st leg. The winners will play Bayern Munich in the final at Real Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium(right). Much as Barcelona would love to take the cup in their main rivals back yard I will be surprised if they manage to overcome the deficit and I expect Inter Milan to hold out giving Jose Mourinho a chance to win the trophy with a second team.

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Bayern Munich Cruise into the Champions League Final

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Bayern Munich swept Lyon aside in the Champions League semi final winning 3-0 in Lyon last night. Leading 1-0 from the first leg a goal from Olic after 26 miutes effectively finished off the tie and he completed his hat trick with two more in the second half.

Lyon had a few chances but never really looked like getting anything from the game and they will have to wait another season at least before they reach a Champions league final for the 1st time. Bayern on the other hand have won the Final in its various guises 4 times including winning it for 3 consecutive yeards between 1974 and 1976. They are now well on course for a historic treble, being in the final of the German cup and they are top of the Bundesliga with 2 games to go.

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Bayern Munich Keep Treble Hopes Alive With Narrow Champions League Win

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In a far from enthralling game Bayern Munich managed a narrow 1-0 win over a somewhat lackluster Lyon in the Champions League Semi Final last night. In a game probably best remembered for 2 sending offs Bayern finally broke the deadlock when Arjen Robben (right) struck a 30 yard shot which beat the keeper aided by a slight deflection.

Lyon will be slightly aggrieved by the sending off of Jeremy Toulalon but they really didn’t deserve anything out of the game. They could point to the travel disruptions as contributing to their poor performance and will be a different proposition in the second leg. The result leaves the tie nicely poised and keeps Bayern Munich’s chances of landing the treble alive as they are currently top of the German Bundesliga following their 7-o thrashing of Hannover 96 at the weekend and are already through to the German Cup Final.

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Inter Milan Beat a Tired Looking Barcelona 3-1

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After their marathon coach ride caused by the Volcanic ash cloud which has affected European flights, Barcelona looked decidedly below par when losing 3-1 to Inter Milan in the Champions League Semi Final. Despite taking the lead Barcelona never looked like the team who destroyed Arsenal in the previous round and with their influential central defender Carles Puyol being suspended for the second leg they will face an uphill struggle to reach the final again.

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Lyon Reach their First Champions League Semi Final

Lyon
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Lyon just got the better of their French rivals Bordeaux to advance to their first Champions League semi final. Leading 3-1 from the 1st leg Lyon had to survive a few scares and went a goal down just before half time. However in the second half they looked the better team and deserved their 3-2 aggregate win.

They will now face a tough task in the semi final against Bayern Munich who advanced on away goals against Manchester United.

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Bayern Munich Progress On Away Goals Again

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Who says lightening cant strike twice? After scraping past Fiorentina on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate result in the previous round Bayern Munich repeated the feat again last night coming back from 3-0 down at Old Trafford to advance to the Champions League semi final in identical fashion. Even more ironic was that once again Arron Robben popped up with what would prove to be the decisive goal, just as he did in the previous round.

In the first half Manchester United looked by far the better team as they swept into a 3-0 lead thanks to an early goal by up and coming Northern Irish midfielder Darron Gibson and two goals from defender Patrice Evra. The only blemish on what was a quite stunning early performance was the booking of Rafael Da Silva and up until the 43rd minute only an eternal optimist would have given Bayern any chance of progressing.

However in the space of 15 minutes things changed dramatically. First Ivica Olic took advantage of some sloppy defending by Michael Carrick and somehow managed to slot the ball home from an acute angle just before halftime to give Bayern some faint hope, and then in a some what controversial moment just after half time Rafael Da Silva hauled back Ribery and the referee, surrounded by protesting Bayern players decided to send him off for a second bookable offence.

Down to 10 men was bad enough but when Wayne Rooney left the pitch 5 minutes latter things looked bleak. From there is was largely wave after wave of Bayren attacks and it was no surprise when Arron Robben scored the decisive goal with a beautifully struck volley.

After the match Alex Ferguson was highly critical of the Bayern players actions, which he thinks contributed to the sending off which did change the course of the game. However given the similar conduct of his own players in many past matches he really has no real grounds to complain as haranguing the referee is now unfortunately part of the game.  Bayern will now be aiming to emulate Manchester United’s 1999 achievement and win their version of the Treble; they are currently top of the Bundesliga and through to the German Cup Final.

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Early Inter Goal Kills off CSKA Moscow

Wesley Sneijder.
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A 6th minute goal from Wesley Sneijder (right) was enough to guide Inter Milan into the Champions League Semi Final against CSKA Moscow last night and in doing so ensured Jose Mourinho a place in Soccer history as he became the first manager to lead three different clubs to the Champions League semi-final.

Inter progressed with the minimum of effort and now Mourinho will be hoping to emulate his achievement with Porto who he led to victory in the 2004 Champions League Final although in their current form Barcelona will be formidable opponents in the Semi’s.

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Messi hits Four as Arsenal Crash out of the Champions League

Messi ante el Almeria en el Nou Camp en el par...
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For two brief minutes mid way through the first half it looked like injury ravaged Arsenal may be capable of pulling off a shock, the the Lionel Messi show began and he showed why he is currently rated the Worlds best player. Messi hit a 1st half hat trick to effectively kill the game and grabbed his fourth 2 minutes from time to complete a scoreline which only slightly flattered Barcelona.

Hopes were high for Arsenal who included Theo Walcott from the start hoping his pace would unsettle Barcelona who themselves were missing their 1st choice central defenders, but the tactical decision to play the speedy Eric Abidal largely negated this threat and although they had their chances even Arsene Venger,  gracious in defeat acknowledged that Barcelona are currently a better team.

Arsenal who are pretty much assured of a place in next seasons competition can now focus their attention on the Premier league, where they still have a faint chance of taking the title and Barcelona can look forward to facing Inter Milan in what should be an intriguing affair.

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Arsenal Look to Sol Campbell as Injuries Mount

English footballer Sol Campbell
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Arsenal will probably have to play 35 year old Sol Campbell from the start against Barcelona tonight as Alex Song has joined a worrying list of injuries for the London side. Also missing tonight will be captain Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin and William Gallas.

Barcelona themselves are not without concerns though as  striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who hit both their goals in the 1st leg is Injured and their defensive pair Captain Carles Puyol and  Gerard Pique are both banned.

Sol Campbell scored the opening goal for Arsenal against Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League Final but they were already down to 10 men and Barcelona won with 2 late goals.

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Walcott Makes The Difference For Arsenal

Theo Walcott.
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In a thrilling game at the Emirates stadium Arsenal battled back  from 2-0 down to draw 2-2- with Barcelona in the Champions League quarter final,  thanks in no small part to Theo Walcott who grabbed their first soon after comming on as a second half substitute.

In a game for the neutral fan to savour Barcelona dominated the first half with a great display of passing football and only some great goal keeping allowed Arsenal to go in level at half time. However Barcelona scored just after the start of the second half through Ibrahimovic and he added a second just before the hour mark.

Things looked bleak for Arsenal but in the 69th Minute Walcott pulled a goal back whicg gave the team a lift and when Puyol fouled Fabregas 5 minutes from time Arsenal scored the equaliser giving them a chance of progressing to the semi finals. Unfortunately both Fabregas and Puyol will miss the second leg as they are suspended after picking up cards.

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